Islabikes is the first company in the country to use the recently launched Engineering Club at the Marches Centre of Manufacturing and Technology (MCMT).
The specialist bike manufacturer is using the service to help bring its ‘Imagine Project’ to life, which will see bikes rented to the user, then returned, refurbished and rented to another rider.
This will involve the Ludlow-based company developing its own in-house manufacturing capability, bringing initial-stage production back from South East Asia and giving existing staff the chance to gain new skills.
Matt Baynham, implementation manager at Islabikes, said: "As a relatively small business, it is fantastic that we are able to use the MCMT’s Engineering Club to gain knowledge that will inform how we develop our manufacturing processes in the future.
"This is a great resource for SMEs and mean we simply pay a fee to use the equipment and work with its design specialist Adrian Howell on exploring tooling and fixtures that will help us build parts for our new bikes.
"So far our engineers have used millers and lathes, CNCs to machine small parts and we will shortly be using 3D printers to help with prototyping.
"We are getting to understand different equipment and what technology we might need to invest in to help us establish our own manufacturing process.
"If we didn’t have this resource it could take us years to build up this knowledge and we could spend a lot of money on the wrong tools and machinery."
Matt Snelson, managing director of MCMT said: "We’ve started addressing the skills gap and now want to use our facilities and expertise to help give SMEs access to equipment potentially out of their reach.
"This could be used in new process development, creating new products or solving a production bottleneck.
"The Engineering Club is going to be a fantastic resource and the flexible payment plan means it should be very accessible.
"Islabikes is the first company to benefit and we are playing an important role in the early stages of design work that should lead to a new generation of ‘sustainable’ bicycles."
Baynham concluded: "We would certainly recommend other firms take a look at this innovative scheme.
"I see it as the start of a longer-term relationship with MCMT and we may even look at placing apprentices with the centre in the future."